Hereford Beef Cattle
The Hereford breed was founded some two and one-half centuries ago as a product
of necessity. Thrifty and enterprising farmers near Hereford in the County of Herefordshire, England, were
determined to produce beef for the expanding food market created by Britain's industrial revolution. To succeed in
Herefordshire, these early-day cattlemen realized they must have cattle which could efficiently convert their
native grass to beef and do it at a profit.
The Hereford is a red animal
with a white face, some call them "White Face Cattle." There is both a Horned and Polled strain of the same color
pattern. For many years the Hereford was the breed of choice in th USA and has always produced a good quality of
Brief History by the AMHAA
The Hereford breed of beef cattle was established near Hereford, county of
Herefordshire, England, nearly 300 years ago as a product of necessity. Thrifty, enterprising British farmers were
seeing the need to produce beef for the expanding food market created by Britain's industrial revolution. To
successfully meet this growing demand, these early-day cattlemen needed cattle which could efficiently convert
native grasses to beef, and do it at a profit.
No breed at that time could fill that need, so the farmers of Herefordshire developed and
founded the breed that logically became known as Herefords. These early Hereford breeders molded their cattle with
the goals of high beef yields and efficient production. They so solidly fixed these traits that they remain today
as outstanding characteristics of the breed. Cattle with the trade-mark white faces and distinctive red bodies are
instantly recognized world-wide as a time-tested, reliable source of profitable beef cattle genetics.
Benjamin Tomkins is credited with being a primary founder of the Hereford breed. He
began in 1742 with a bull calf from the cow Silver and two cows, Pidgeon and Mottle, inherited from his father's
estate. This was 18 years before Robert Bakewell began developing his theories of animal breeding. Tomkins' goals
were economy in feeding, natural ability to grow and gain on grass and grain, rustling ability, hardiness, early
maturity and high rates of reproduction‹traits that are still of primary importance today.
Other pioneering breeders followed Tomkins' lead and established the world-wide
reputation for these Herefordshire cattle, thus causing their exportation from England to wherever grass grows and
beef production is possible.
Herefords in the 1700s and early 1800s in England were much larger than today's. Many
mature Herefords of those days weighed 3,000 lb. or more when displayed in 1839. Gradually, the type and
conformation changed to less extreme size and weight in order to get more quality and efficiency. Today's Herefords
are optimum sized to produce slaughter cattle that fit industry demand. weighing in the 1,000 to 1,200-lb.